The Times Higher Education World University Rankings are the most widely recognised and widely used rankings among international students, new research has found.
The international student recruitment agency IDP asked globally mobile students which of the university ranking systems they were aware of. The Times Higher Education World University Rankings attracted more responses than any other ranking - some 67 per cent.
This was some way ahead of any others. Rankings produced by the careers information company Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) garnered 50 per cent of responses, and the Shanghai Academic Rankings of World Universities (ARWU) received 15.8 per cent.
Asked which of the global rankings they had used when choosing which institution to study at, 49 per cent of students named the THE World University Rankings, compared to 37 per cent who named QS and 6.7 per cent who named the ARWU and the Webometrics ranking published by the Spanish Cybermetrics Lab, a research group of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC).
"These results are gratifying," said Phil Baty, editor of Times Higher Education rankings. "THE has worked hard with its data partner Thomson Reuters to develop the most comprehensive and balanced global university performance comparisons available, and to ensure that they can bear the weight that is increasingly placed on rankings.
"It is great news that this work - which involved more than ten moths of open consultation during 2010 and independent expert advice - has not only earned us the trust of the international academic community but has also won us the trust of international students, who can invest many tens of thousands of pounds in their education."
Mr Baty said that the THE World University Rankings - which are next published on 3 October 2012 - offer more to students than any other ranking - with five separate performance indicators dedicated to examining the teaching and learning environment at each university. The rankings employ 13 performance indicators altogether, covering teaching as well as research, knowledge transfer and internationalization.
The survey of students placed on courses by IDP, found that the THE rankings were best known across all countries where the sample size was deemed by the researchers to be statistically valid.
Kim Dienhoff, Manager, Communications and Stakeholder Relations at IDP said: "Global university rankings have arrived as one of the key influences on the decision-making of students and their parents. They are powerful and useful, not only because they reduce a lot of complex information about universities to a headline ranking, but because of the extra information which is available by drilling down into them."